Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's life Jim, but not as we know it...

N and I have been enjoying watching DVDs of the 1970s BBC drama series The Survivors, aabout what happens to society when a virus wipes out most of the people on the planet. We are now onto series three. I was really affected by it when it was on the first time - I must have been around 12 or 13. The thing that I found most spooky was the beginning, it had slightly scary music and there was something about all those stamps in the passport showing where the scientist had spread the virus....

What I didn't realise at the time was that it had been created by Terry Nation of Doctor Who fame (creator of the daleks I believe and Blakes Seven). Something that is really noticable on rewatching them is the little speeches about the breakdown of society and the phiosophising on how it could all be fixed. Sometimes they sound like a bunch of sociology lecturers having a debate in the staffroom rather than people who have survived a plague and are trying to rebuild society. The idea of society as we know it being destoyed was a big theme in the 70s and 80s, what with the nuclear threat, the cold war and so on and it was obviously a big preoccupation of Terry's. It's all very commendable and all frightfully BBC.

N doesn't seem to notice the mini lectures though just like I didn't when I watched it at his age, or maybe I did and maybe it was those ideas that appealed to me so much - as well as the thrill of everyone carrying guns and the savage dogs and rats.

I think I was horribly fascinated by the concepts behind the series - my other favourite tv series as a child was another gem from the BBC. The Changes was based on an excellent book called Heartsease by Peter Dickinson. Once again it dealt with the concept of a total breakdown of society as we know it but in this case seen from the viewpoint of two children. In their world everyone turns against machinery and smashes it up thinking it's evil - there is mass exodus of people fleeing to the continent and those who are left live in a primitive medieval way. Unfortunately the BBC is yet to release this series on DVD - more's the pity!

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